Hello friends! Wouldn’t you like a magic formula that would make every painting successful? Who wouldn’t be interested in a recipe for creating better art? I am constantly an advocate for letting other artists inspire you. Sometimes this means studying with an artist you admire, other times it may mean something as simple as painting with a friend. As far as I’m concerned, anything that sparks your creativity is something to be cultivated in life. Lately I’ve been indulging in some study of one of my favorite watercolorists. Her name is Shirley Trevena. If you don’t know her, you should. She is an amazing floral and still life artist… But that oversimplifies who and what she does.
Shirley Trevena’s paintings are full of color, and surprise. Even though her subject matter may be traditional flowers and ordinary objects, her paintings are anything but ordinary! I’ve been taking notes on what I feel she tends to do in order to create her successful paintings. All the artwork in this post is by Shirley Trevena.
Here’s a few ideas from my notes to self after studying Shirley Trevena’s work:
- Go for big tonal shifts incorporating the full spectrum of value from black to white.
- Break the generally accepted watercolor rules and use black paint!
- Avoid painting each object entirely, have some of the object lost and merged with adjacent shapes via soft edges and ignoring perspective
- Color Sand with watercolor pencil for texture
- Visit a floral shop or grocery store for color and subject inspiration.
- Thumbnail sketch a painting and then go in without an underdrawing. Add graphite later.
- Grab collage color swatches and group them together to form collections of colors that will inspire a future painting.
- Bind a composition of separate objects with one or many lost and found vertical shapes. Or try using an “L” shape. Let the straight lines of the shapes move behind and in front of the objects, varying as they move through the piece. Let the shape(s) create divisions of space that are interesting. Form the shapes using tape as masks.
- Do thumbnails with collage as means of inspiring divisions of space and envisioning pattern ideas.
- Wrap flowers in wrapping paper for interesting patterns.
- Apply paint with something other than a brush: a scraper tool, a stick, or a bamboo pen.
- Draw into wet paint with a stick or a black Woody Stabilo crayon- order here.
- Create a permanent record of your colors by creating a chart that shows the color straight from the tube and diluted. Use it for matching colors found in collage pieces.
Taking notes is something I like to do when I study another artist’s work. I will often bring a watercolor journal with me to museum visits and take note of what I see. (order the my favorite watercolor journal here: Aquabee Super Deluxe journal
In my journal I’ll note patterns. I’ll write down materials. I’ll sketch and note history that might be relevant. I’ll even jot down ideas that may come for my own work as I walk around. It’s amazing what I learn in the process of simply absorbing other artist’s efforts.
My next couple of blogs will touch on my most recent art field trip… a visit to Philadelphia and NYC. The American Watercolors exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Museum let me to luxuriously linger with John Singer Sargent’s watercolors in an exhibit titled: American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent. In NYC, I took notes on the Klimt paintings housed at the Neue Gallery, especially Adele Bloch Bauer, the Woman In Gold. I can’t wait to tell you all about it !!!
Do you have any tips to share after studying the work of someone you admire? Email me or respond here and let’s continue the discussion….
Here’s to lingering with art you love,
PS- If you’re hungry for adventures that include art, think about joining me this fall for my EAT PAINT COOK TOUR of TUSCANY and the CINQUE TERRE 9/23-10/3/17! It’s going to be another great tour of my favorite places in this special corner of Italy. Here’s a link to more information, videos, and registration: https://www.ilchiostro.com/workshops/eat-paint-cook-tour-of-tuscany-cinque-terre/
Ireland is also calling…
PSS- If you can’t make it this year, how about next year in IRELAND?! May 13-24, 2018 I’ll be leading a tour of Ireland South…my favorite places in the south of the Emerald Isle, including Dublin, Cork, Killarney, Galway, Adare, the Dingle Peninsula, and more! Here’s more information on this fun get away…http://rebeccazartist.com/tour-ireland-south-wrebecca-513-24-2018/